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Books on Prescription are just what the Doctor ordered

Press release   •   Oct 10, 2014 09:00 BST

Rochdale Borough Libraries have announced an early success in the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, a mental health reading initiative supported by local libraries, schools and GPs.

The ground-breaking initiative, which aims to improve common mental health conditions through the provision of therapy books, was launched locally in February 2014 and has made an immediate impact, with library borrowing figures for the prescription books increasing dramatically, it was announced today, on World Mental Health Day.

Balderstone, Heywood and Alkrington libraries have boasted a 60 per cent, 64 per cent and 83 per cent increase on Prescription book loans since the February launch.

Clare Stephenson, Pennine Care NHS Senior Psychological Wellbeing Manager, said:

“The Books on Prescription scheme is an excellent resource for the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners to use with clients. They can really help supplement an intervention and can support a client to progress through a guided self-help approach.”

Books can be recommended by GPs or other health professionals from the Reading Well Books on Prescription core booklist. They are available from the borough’s libraries where they can be borrowed free of charge. Recommended by experts, the books have been tried and tested and found to be useful by others.

Improvements in patient confidence and management of symptoms was reported by nearly all of the GPs and health professionals surveyed who had prescribed books from the list, while just under half felt the scheme had saved them consultation time.

Launched nationally in June 2013 the scheme has now reached around 275,000 people in total, with loans of self-help books more than doubling.

The Library Service launched its local provision of the scheme with a borough-wide offering for children, young people and families alongside the nationwide adults’ offer. Since then more than 230 local organisations – including all schools and GPs – have signed up to support the initiative by becoming ‘prescribers’ of the book, helping to meet the huge need for mental health support. 

Recent figures indicate that around 8 million people in England suffer from anxiety or depression.

While around 7,000 prescribers nationally are using the scheme, 80 per cent of people who borrowed a book had self-referred by picking up a leaflet, often in their local library or through organisations endorsing the initiative.

Following the success of the common mental health conditions initiative, a Books on Prescription for Dementia offer will be launched in libraries early next year. 

Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support:

“We want to build a fairer society with better mental health for everyone. I am delighted that the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme has been so effective in its first year and to hear that it has helped people understand more about their condition. This is about empowering and informing people which is so important. The new dementia scheme is an exciting development which I hope will be just as successful.” 

For further information about Books on Prescription or to leave feedback on the scheme please head to To join the library or for more information about services and events, please see

Reading Well Books on Prescription is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians with funding from Arts Council England. 

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Rochdale Borough Council - We are a council which builds success and prosperity with our citizens and partners, whilst protecting our vulnerable people.

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